Symptoms of A Bad Ignition Switch

Ignition switches can fail or get damaged due to everyday wear and tire, temperature problems, or broken springs. The most common symptoms of a bad ignition switch are difficulty in turning or removing key, engine won’t start or engine stalling when driving.

Though you can bypass faulty ignition switches using a hot wire, jumper cable, or drilling keyhole, these can trigger further issues. So it’s better to replace the damaged ignition switch to enjoy safe driving and avoid expensive repairs.

Common Symptoms of A Bad Ignition Switch

Ignition switches last thousands of key cycles or up to 100,000 miles. However, ignition switch can get damaged and show these symptoms:

1. Tough To Remove Or Turn The Key

 If you feel it is difficult to turn, remove or disable ignition key system, it can be result of a worn-out switch. A worn-out ignition switch can be jammed or bent and prevent you from using it smoothly.

Tough To Remove Or Turn The Key

2. Engine Won’t Start

If ignition switch gets damaged, engine won’t crank or start. Ignition switch delivers power to ignition control, engine and starter motor. If the switch electrical contacts fail, the engine won’t receive power to start.

Engine Won’t Start

3. Engine Starts And Stop

If ignition system malfunctions, car engine can stall after starting. It can happen if ignition switch is stuck in one position and cuts off power to ignition system and fuel pump. If the faulty switch fails to recognize a valid key, it can also shut off the engine suddenly.

4. Engine Stall while Driving

A damaged ignition switch can lose electrical connection and stall the engine while driving. It can happen if you drive with a weak ignition switch over bumps or rough roads or harshly turn the steering wheel.

Engine Stall while Driving

5. Electrical Issues

Car’s electrical components like dashboard light and interior light wont function properly if ignition switch gets damaged. A bad ignition switch can’t provide enough power to these accessories and prevents them from working properly.

How Do You Know If Ignition Switch is Bad?

You can perform some tests to determine if ignition switch gets damaged.

How Do You Know if Ignition Switch is Bad

Voltage Test

Ignition switch directs power from battery to the selected circuit. So checking its voltage is an effective way to determine the condition of the ignition switch. Before starting this process, make sure the battery has around 12.3 volts, the parking brake is set and transmission is in park mode.

Connect a voltmeter to battery turn ignition key to on position and hold it. You should hear a crank noise. If you don’t hear the noise, check voltage at the starter point of the starter solenoid wire. If it has voltage, the solenoid starter gets damaged. If it doesn’t have voltage, the ignition switch gets damaged.

Spark Test

Hold a plug wire or coil around ¼ inch from the engine’s grounded portion and ask someone to turn on the engine. Then watch for a spark. If it doesn’t make a spark, there is a problem with ignition key system or switch. Be prepared to turn off the ignition if engine tends to start. You must be careful while performing this test as you can get a 70,000-volt shock.

Engine’s internal combustion requires properly mixed fuel, spark, and air at the right time. So if spark doesn’t come out at right time, the ignition switch still has a problem. In this case, you’ll need an ignition tester to check the switch.

Can You Bypass A Bad Ignition Switch?

Yes, you can easily bypass faulty ignition switches on older cars and trucks particularly those that were made before 2000 applying hot wiring method. Car thieves also use this technique to steal vehicles. But you can’t bypass bad ignition switches on newer vehicles using this method as these vehicles are computerized.

Can You Bypass A Bad Ignition Switch

Bypassing ignition switches can disconnect some sensors on modern vehicles. Newer vehicles won’t run unless all sensors feed right data to computer. Modern vehicles won’t start unless computer reads right chip on the key. Steering wheel also keeps locked in place until you turn correct key into the ignition lock.

How To Bypass A Bad Ignition Switch?

Follow these steps to bypass faulty ignition switch and start your car:

How To Bypass A Damaged Ignition Switch To Start Older Car

1. Remove Cover

Remove cover from under steering wheel to get access to the ignition switch wire.

Remove Cover

2. Prepare Wires

Most cars have three wires that go into ignition switch including terminal 30 which connects battery to the switch. Terminal 15 power engine and terminal 50 command starter.

Detach these wires from the nearness of the ignition switch using a knife and remove insulation from the ends. You need to short terminals 30 and 15 to start vehicle without an ignition switch.

3. Identify And Short The Right Wires

To determine which two wires are terminals 15 and 30, short two of the wires. If nothing happens, you have shorted terminals 15 and 50 that aren’t powered yet and left 30.

Identify And Short The Right Wires

Then short terminal 30 with one of previous two. If you hear a starter motor cranking noise, the second one is terminal 50. Detach these two for now.

Finally, short terminal 3o with 15 and the dash panel should light up with all indicators. Keep these two wires shorted and connect the third one until engine starts. Once the engine starts, remove it.

How To Start Car With Bad Ignition Switch?

You can modern car using a jumper cable or using a screwdriver instead of a key.

1. Use Jumper Cables

Open the car’s hood and locate battery and ignition coil. Connect battery’s positive terminal to coil’s positive side using a jumper cable. This will deliver power to dash and start engine. Then connect starter solenoid to the positive terminal of the battery.

Use Jumper Cables

Unplug ignition switch wiring from solenoid and connect positive terminal of the solenoid to ignition switch. This should activate the starter solenoid and turn on the vehicle.

2. Drill Keyhole

You can also start your car with a damaged ignition switch by drilling into a keyhole. But this method can damage the switch completely. Drill same length of hole as a key into keyhole using a metal drill.

This will damage the ignition cylinder internal pin. Put a screwdriver into the keyhole and turn it to start your car.  

How Much Does it Cost To Replace A Bad Ignition Switch?

On average, it costs around $190 to $230 to replace a faulty ignition switch. Auto repair shops can cost between $115 and $130 for replacement parts and charge $80 to $100 for labor. However, the exact ignition switch replacement cost varies depending on the car’s make and mode.

Complex replacement procedures and risk involved are key reasons for higher service charges. To install a new ignition switch, you’ll need to:

You’ll also have to disable steering column to remove switch and it can deploy airbag. In some vehicles, you may also need to off and remove air conditioning ducts. If you fail to replace ignition switch properly, it can stall the engine suddenly and leave you stranded when driving.


How To Prevent ignition Switch Problems?

Ignition switch is placed inside of ignition module and remains out of sight. So it doesn’t need much maintenance. However, ignition switch can wear out and cause failure. To reduce this issue, avoid applying unnecessary key cycles. If key chain dangles, it can add strain to ignition switch and cylinder and cause failure. To avoid this problem, remove clutter from keychain and keep key and fob on the chain.

What Happens When ignition Switch Goes Out?

A damaged ignition switch can’t supply power to the ignition system, starter motor, and other engine controls to prevent engine from starting. It also cut off power to dashboard.

Will A Bad ignition Switch Throw A Code?

Bad ignition switches generally don’t set an error code on dashboard. However if computer detect any problem with ignition or switch fails when driving, it can trigger check engine light. Car may also stop suddenly.

Final Words

If you notice any of the symptoms of a bad ignition switch, repair the switch instead of driving. It’s dangerous to drive with a damaged ignition switch as it can stop the car in the middle of the road and cause serious accidents.

You might not be able to start vehicle next time and need to tow the car to mechanic shop. It can boost repair costs. In an emergency bypass ignition switch using hot wire or jumper cable techniques. Remember, these rent permanent solutions.

My name is Tom Vanderbilt. I am an automotive expert and renowned for my profound knowledge of automobiles. I have made significant contributions to the industry through my experience and expertise. I have a natural curiosity and fascination for cars. My journey is to explore the intricate dynamics between people, their vehicles, and the ever-evolving transportation landscape.

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